Sunday should have been a great day.
I had just accepted an offer from my new employer, making Sunday the last day of my life of leisure, and wanted to celebrate by doing something fun. I planned a trip to Cathedral Gorge State Park.
It should have been a great day.
The Snake had other plans.
I wrote, in Monday’s post, about how 2013, the Year of the Snake, was not particularly kind to me, and how glad I was to see it go. The snake had one last bite to deliver. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Cathedral Gorge has been described as a “mini Bryce Canyon”, which – if you’ve ever been to Bryce – means it has very big shoes to fill. I was skeptical as to why it wasn’t better known, if it was really ‘all that'; but at under 3 hours drive time, it was worth investigating. So off we went.
It was an easy, but desolate, drive. This is not a place you want to run out of gas.
Arriving at the park reminded me a bit of the Griswold family arriving at Wally-World; the place was like a ghost town. Thankfully, unlike Wally-World, it wasn’t closed.
Other than one family, in the process of packing up after their BBQ and heading out, we were the only people there.
This place was kind of a mini Bryce Canyon, with the emphasis being on mini.
Not only was the park much smaller in total area, but the height of the of the mountains and the depths of the canyons were much smaller. It was kind of like seeing the replicas of the Eiffel Tower at Paris, Las Vegas or the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York [two hotels on the Vegas Strip]. Close, but no cigar.
Still, the geological formations, cathedral-like spires and colourful canyons, remnants of an ancient lakebed, were just beautiful.
We started out by exploring the ‘caves’, just inside the entrance of the park. This area features tall spires, formed through millions of years of erosion, creating a series of slot canyons, laid out in a labyrinth; many of them so narrow you have to squeeze through sideways. Whenever we hit a dead-end, we just turned around and tried another slot canyon in this cool natural maze.
After that we hit the first of two hiking trails, a short 1 mile hike to the Miller Point Overlook.
Next we hiked the Juniper Draw trail, an easy 4 mile loop.
It was just after 3:30 pm when we began the trip back home. Everything was normal. We considered stopping in Pioche, the last town we would encounter for the next 140 miles, but decided neither of us was all that hungry. And frankly, Pioche’s only restaurant didn’t look all that appetizing. So we drove towards Vegas.
Again, everything seemed normal.
We had nearly reached the I15, from the long drive on the lonely I93, and were just 40 minutes from home, when the car became possessed by a demon spirit.
I am not exaggerating.
Everything on the dashboard lit up.
The high beams turned on. The windshield wipers started going at the fastest speed possible. The front and rear defrosters turned on. The incessant sound of the right turn signal click-click-clicking. WTF was happening to our car? This went on for what seemed like hours. (Actual time = maybe 2 minutes.)
And then everything went dark.
The headlights went out. The tail-lights went out.
Mr. Enthusiasm tried to activate the hazard lights. No dice.
Since I was fresh out of Holy Water, I did the only other thing I could do. I screamed. Then I begged Mr. Enthusiasm to stop the car.
He calmly replied that he couldn’t stop in middle of a dark highway; especially since we had no 4-way flashers and no flares.
I implored him to slow down, at the very least, since it appeared Christine was driving herself. Again he shut me down, explaining that it wasn’t smart to slow down when other cars and trucks were barreling up from behind us at 70 MPH.
My heart pounded in my chest; my nails dug into the skin of my tightly clenched fists.
Oh Snake, you evil shit, you just had to deliver one last bite before leaving the building, huh? Bastard.
A moment later we noticed a brightly lit gas station/truck stop up head. YES! Talk about an oasis in the desert! This was the first sign of life in over 2 hours of driving, and was perfectly timed.
I cautiously exhaled.
Just as we came off the exit ramp, the engine went silent, all power was lost. I still can’t believe that we somehow managed to navigate the car to a curb directly across the street from the gas station. This was clearly the work of the Horse.
Mr. Enthusiasm popped the hood, donning one of two brand new headlamps recently acquired for hiking after dark. Useful things, these turned out to be. Anyway, while he pretended to know what he was doing under the hood, I hustled across the street to find a restroom. It’s a miracle I hadn’t soiled myself during those last terrifying minutes in the demon car.
As I made my way back to the car, something caught my eye.
At first I thought it was a dog, but soon realized I was looking at a coyote.
I froze, watching it as it crossed the street, meandering through parked transport trucks, and moving towards my husband. I thought, momentarily, about yelling out to warn him. But then I realized that might alert the coyote that I was lunging distance away.
I kept quiet.
Because coyotes do this:
Mr. Enthusiasm was on his own.
Eventually the beast sauntered into the brush, all smug and shit.
I seized the opportunity and ran to the car, jumping in and locking the door. Because who knew what else the Snake was capable of delivering my way?
The good folks at AAA eventually sent a tow-truck, and we made it home at 9:15 pm. The GPS had us arriving at 6:00 pm, before the demonic possession. But, hey, what’s a 3 hour delay in the grand scheme of things?
Especially when the other possible outcomes included death in a fiery car crash or being ripped apart by a rabid coyote.
So maybe the Snake got one last bite in, but it also provided me with some fodder for this blog. The Snake, it seems, has quite the sense of humour. Bastard.